Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Tragedy of Penny and Karissa Boudreau

When I first heard of how Penny Boudreau strangled her 12 year old daughter in a bid to keep her boyfriend I was shocked and disgusted. The details are sensational: Penny's boyfriend told her she would have to choose between him or her daughter, so Penny strangled her daughter, put the twine in a garbage can, threw her daughter's body in a river, put her daughter's clothes in a garbage can and then reported her child missing and went on National TV pleading for her daughter's return.

She eventually confessed everything to an undercover police officer and her fate was sealed. She received a life sentence for the murder. So justice has been served and it's time to close this sad chapter of history. Well maybe. What has struck me more recently is the viciousness of the condemnation that she has received. Most commentary seems to be of the "hanging's too good for her" variety, and I shuddered when I read the judge's comments:
"You can never call yourself mother," said Justice Margaret Stewart, glancing up at Boudreau. "The words, 'Mommy, don't' ... are there to haunt you for the rest of your life."
The judge may be more right than she knows. I cannot fathom how a mother could do this to her child, and I definitely can't begin to understand how she is living with herself. It seems like she's already grappling with the magnitude of the situation, the article said that she was weeping throughout the hearing and:

After sentencing, Boudreau stood up briefly to address the court.

"I'm sorry," she said in a meek whisper.

Nobody seems to interested in her apology. But maybe we should be. I'm reminded of a number of sermons I've heard about evil and about confession. There's a classic trap that the devil seems to use - first he tries to convince us that whatever wrongdoing we're being tempted to do is OK, normal, or justified by the circumstances. THEN after we've done it he encourages us to feel guilty, ashamed, worthless and unforgivable. I'm certain that's how Penny Boudreau is feeling right now, the judge did her part to make sure she is.

The amazing thing for Penny, and for all of us, is that if her guilt leads her to sorrow, and her sorrow leads to true repentance, then God is willing and able to forgive even her. What Penny did was less than human, but she is still a person. I'm praying for her that she will truly repent for her sins and that she will feel God's love. I'm also thinking it's time to go back to confession myself.

Just one disclaimer: Our system is just and Penny was rightly given the maximum sentence for her actions. My only hope is that the next 20 years she spends in jail is a time of healing and repentance not a time of debilitating guilt and mental anguish.


duhgee said...

... or she could have been faking the tears, the meek whisper, and the apology just like she faked it on national TV pleading for her daughter's return. She could be a fantastic actress, attempting to manipulate the courts and the public.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Maybe, but she'll still have at least 20 years to figure it out. I hope she finds true repentance and healing.